Thursday, 1 November 2012

Branding 101

Let's get to the basics of branding first. What exactly is a brand?
From what I understand, I would define it as a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.

But why brand an object, product or a person in the first place? It could be for any of the four reasons below:
  • Branding helps identify products that might benefit the consumer 
  • It Tells the buyer something about the product quality 
  • Lets the seller build a story around the quality 
  • Enables the seller legal protection for a unique feature of the brand. 
But is a brand really different from a product? There's actually a HUGE difference between the two. A brand is more, much more than the mere product it stands for. A brand can be called as the amalgam of the physical product and the notional images that go with the brand.

When we recall a brand, not only do we recall the physicality of the product but also the images it conjures.

To think of an example, take Sundrop Oil. The image that immediately pops up in my mind can be easily put together as below:

Sundrop = Sunflower Oil + (Healthy Family + Happy Children +Loving mother + Tasty Food +Modern Home +...) 

The 'brand' has engrained in our minds this image so much so, that subconsciously I would always pick up Sundrop oil for the well being of my family the next time I go to a supermarket!

Next, let's take an example of a more 'youthful' brand  Pulsar motorbike. Can we try putting up an equation as above?

Pulsar  = Motorbike + ( Style + Extra Power + Macho Image + Great Looks + Reliable Company)  Certainly appeals to the youngsters in their 20's and 30's! 

Simply put, a brand is nothing but : Brand = Product + ( Image)  as seen above.

There are of course other subtle differences. A product is something that is made in a factory, but a brand is something that is BOUGHT by a customer. The key point to note here is the brand is something tailor made for the customers need. Or in the case of clever marketing  its image is so well developed that a buyer feels its exactly what he needs and wants to buy!

Another difference is that a product can be copied by a competitor, but a brand will always remain unique.

A brand is therefore a product, but one that adds other dimensions that differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need. These differences may be rational and tangible related to the product performance of the brand. Or they may be more symbolic, emotional and intangible  i.e related to what the brand represents.

The best way to convey this idea is that 

a product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless. 

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